Now for the downside of a house loaded up with "smart" devices to allow remote control and monitoring: turning your home into a computer means computer-like problems. Today's example comes from the Wink Hub, a $50 device sold at Home Depot that's supposed to simplify things by working across standards and link common home appliances (lights, thermostat, garage door, etc.) to your phone. That was the plan until yesterday when Wink
sent out a software update that went wrong somehow, and now a number of users have a box "so secure that it is unable to connect to the Wink servers" (Wink's words, not ours). The problem knocked all Wink hubs offline from 12:40PM to 11PM ET yesterday, and while the company says a "majority" of hubs were able to recover and reconnect, those that weren't will need to be sent back.
Update: We've confirmed what several Wink users have reported -- it appears that an expired certificate is at the root of the problem. The update pushed out was an attempt to fix the issue, and judging by responses on the Facebook group it did work for some owners. Stay tuned though, we're expecting more information on the issue shortly. [Thanks, Paul!]
Update 2: There's a way to fix the problem! Quirky founder Ben Kaufman tells us that Wink is currently testing it with a small group of users but plans to email directions out soon. Click here for more details, and keep an eye out for that email.
[Thanks Larry, Steve & John]
For its part, Wink has sent an email out to affected owners asking them to return their hubs and wait for a replacement, and is offering a $50 off Wink store voucher for the trouble. It initially sent out a coupon code, but disabled that one and promises individual codes for owners within 24 hours of submitting a return form (owners should call 844-WINK-APP for service). Unfortunately, as Wink user Chris Sewell posted on Google+, now affected owners are left questioning if they should stick with the company at all or switch to another (hopefully more reliable, maybe Samsung had the right idea delaying its SmartThings Hub) platform -- despite the many cool aspects of smart home setups.
We've contacted the company for more information but have not heard back yet, although for now its status page has some info on what happened. By its reckoning, the problem was due to a security feature it implemented in the "the early days" and was a misconfiguration that was completely avoidable. It's pulling all Wink devices from store shelves for now, saying that local stores will not have inventory "for some time." Apparently turning into a spy and an addict isn't the worst thing that can happen with a smart home.
You can see where things went wrong in real time via Twitter
Hey Wink users! We're doing a bit of work on our end so if you see any devices offline we'll get you back up and running shortly- Wink (@TheWinkApp) April 18, 2015
We are aware of a disruption in Wink service & connectivity. Team is working to resolve. Status can be monitored at http://t.co/WPpNKlhbQv- Wink (@TheWinkApp) April 18, 2015
See a blue light on your hub? Do NOT unplug/restart your hub. The issues are on our end. We'll keep in loop http://t.co/WPpNKlhbQv- Wink (@TheWinkApp) April 18, 2015
We've experienced a massive outage of Wink Hubs. We recovered most, but some will require a repair. Read more at http://t.co/WPpNKlhbQv- Wink (@TheWinkApp) April 19, 2015